Please note that some posts contains affiliate links & I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links Find out More

Does Your Pet Have Paunch? How to Know They’re Overweight & What to Do

by | Feb 21, 2023 | Cat Behavior & Care, Dog Training & Care | 0 comments

Does Your Pet Have Paunch?

Ok, who doesn’t love a little paunch on your favorite pet? I have to admit a round fat puppy tummy or chubby kitten tummy just begs to be cuddled. Adult cats commonly have a pouch–primordial pouch–that won’t go away even when they weigh the right amount. So is that a fat cat? Even wild cats have this extra-belly, possibly as an added protection from tooth-and-claw, or to give more flexibility when running. But more than that and it’s important to recognize when it’s a sign of something serious or is putting your pet at risk of long-term harm.

I get it. The chubby look on some pets can literally melt hearts! 😍But as someone who has been in this industry long enough, I know that a little chubbiness can lead to some pretty large and serious health issues. Paunch and obesity in pets are serious issues that shouldn’t be ignored. Let’s take a closer look at pet paunch and what you can do to help manage your pet’s weight.

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 87% of veterinary professionals surveyed consider pet obesity a disease. But the same survey found that fewer pet owners think their pets are obese versus the general percentages that actually are. This means a lot of pet parents aren’t recognizing that pudge as a potential problem.

fat cat

How to Know if Your Pet Is Overweight

Your pet has extra fat around the belly, spine, base of tail, neck or limbs. Just like people, fat pets can gain weight anywhere on their body. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention surveys pet parents every few years on pet obesity, and is a great resource if you have questions about your pet’s weight gain.

Your pet neglects their personal grooming. Cats and dogs naturally want to keep themselves clean, and will usually try to groom themselves. Fat dogs and overweight cats have trouble reaching their bum, belly, or back. As a result, they develop mats, nasty bottom, or even hot spots.

Moving is more difficult. Extra weight puts more strain on joints, so older pets develop arthritis and have trouble getting around. But young fat pets also have trouble climbing stairs, leaping onto the cat tree, or getting away from a pestering athletic pet.

Breathing issues. Not all breathing issues indicate weight problems. Some cats could have upper respiratory infection, asthma, or other health challenges. And keep in mind, brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds like Pugs, can snore, snort, and having trouble breathing especially during hot weather or exercise. But if your pudgy pet has labored breathing at rest or after mild exercise, don’t be surprised if your veterinarian recommends a weight-loss program.

Weight gain. If the number on the scale has been creeping up between vet appointments, you may need to get your pet’s weight under control before it begins impacting their health and comfort. Karma-Kat has always looked chonky, and we didn’t realize how much table muscle he’d gained until his vet visit. Really big dogs, like our Mastiff-Dane Bravo-Dawg have a higher risk of arthritis and joint injuries, and the vet also cautioned us to keep him on the lean side. Weight gain can be a sign of underlying health issues, so if you notice your pet’s poundage creeping up, a trip to your veterinarian for an accurate weight and health check is in order before changing your pet’s diet or drastically increasing their activity..

It’s easy to miss weight gain when you see your pet every day. Besides, we love to love ’em with treats! If you missed it, like we did, give yourself a break and congratulate yourself you got the info at last. That’s why those yearly vet visits are so important!

fat dog

10 Tips to Prevent the Pet Paunch

Move up your pet’s annual veterinary exam. Reducing your pet’s paunch is a great health goal but it’s a step that should always be taken in partnership with your veterinarian. Rule out any physical limitations or underlying health issues and get your pet accurately weighed at your vet’s office.

Improve your treat game. Look for low calorie, nutrient-dense treats. My Karma-Kat and Shadow-Pup love their treats, but we limit the amount and make sure both of them WORK for the indulgence. You can reduce calories by reserving part of the mean as treats at other times.

Make sure your pet isn’t stealing another pet’s food. Managing multiple pets with different dietary needs is tricky. I’m a big fan of pet gates, or meal feeding pets with supervision. Cat food placed on counters keeps dogs from stealing. It’s all about management. My ComPETability books offer a variety of ways to manage feeding time with multiple pets.

Modify nutrition and measure meals with help from your vet. Yes, you can find “lite” commercial foods for dogs and cats, BUT… they are only “lite” in calories compared to the same brand’s regular food. A half-cup of one brand of dog food may have a lot more calories than a half-cup of another – but it could also be more nutritionally complete, too! Because there are so many pet diets on the market, get your veterinarian’s recommendation for an overweight pet. If pet food labels make your head spin, you can learn more about what you should look for here.

Bond and have fun exercising together! Exercise is fun! My dog loves playing fetch, and chasing his flirt pole. Karma-Kat enjoys bird “TV” out the window, and in nice weather, we go for leash walks outside. Make exercise a daily habit. Start slowly if you haven’t regularly been playing with your pet. Flying leaps and skidding across smooth floors can injure under-used muscles. Here are more suggestions for dog exercises and if you have a cat, refer to this post for cat exercise.

Walks are a game-changer. You can switch up daily walks to be more than just potty breaks. Take an extra lap, try walking uphill, gradually quicken the pace, or choose a different route to make walks more interesting and burn a few more calories.

Restrict access to treats. If you reward your pet with a handful of treats instead of just one, or if your pet steals treats from the food bag, it’s time to break your bad habit. Yes, it’s YOUR habit (you let it happen, LOL!) so invest in pet-proof locks or train the kids and spouse better. Clicker training works for kids and spouses, ya know!

Move the location where your pet has meals. Can you easily move your pet’s food and water bowls? Try making your pet climb stairs, scale the cat tree, or use a food puzzle toy to slow down pets that gobble food.  Just be sure you aren’t making it way too hard for your pet to reach the nutrition they need.

Stay hydrated. Keep that water bowl (or bowls!) full of fresh water. Pets need to drink enough water to stay hydrated. We have several large bowls of water, and fountains, for our dog and cat. Good hydration is important for the overall health of your dog or cat.

Be patient. Beggars, garbage-can diggers and food thieves will need time to unlearn those habits. Pets that lived on the streets prior to adoption often develop these survival habits, so you really can’t blame them. No pet is perfect. Patience is key! Learn more tips for slimming a fat cat here, and for dealing with an obese dog here.

When you’re looking for ways to improve your pet’s health, always clear any advice you see online or hear from friends with your veterinarian. So, does your pet have a little extra around the middle? Which of these tips are you going to try first?

YouTube Button

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Recent Posts

Spoil Your Dog Every Day: 8 Ways How to Show Dogs You Love Them

August 10 is National Spoil Your Dog Day. So how do you spoil your canine companion? Or do you pamper your pet too much?

Our dogs give us unconditional love, and never care that we have a bad hair day, forget to change our socks or brush our teeth—actually, they might like that! They greet us at the door like heroes bearing treasures and always offer a happy wag and eager smooch. Whether dogs snuggle to share our joy or pester us out of a blue mood with a game of fetch, they love us 24/7/365.

That’s one of the many reasons dog lovers consider them part of the family. It’s only natural for us to return the affection by spoiling dogs. Dog lovers don’t need a Spoil Your Dog holiday, either–we love them every day of the year. Here are some ways to return the furry favor for your dog.

Recently, I’ve received a boatload of emails with product suggestions for spoiling dogs with healthy fun. So check out some of the offerings–and in the comments, add suggestions of your own! Then share the blog far and wide to spread the puppy love!

Catnip: More Than A Treat for National Cat Day

Tomorrow is NATIONAL CAT DAY! Why not celebrate with kewl schtuff for the cat…like a catnip treat?

I have no doubt that catnip prompted the Cheshire Cat’s grin. My cat Seren used to wear the same expression when she indulged. NATIONAL CAT DAY is the perfect time to indulge your furry friend.

But why do cats find this nondescript herb so attractive? Is it a kitty aphrodisiac, a harmless pleasure or something more sinister?

What Is Catnip?

Nepeta cataria, or catnip, is a strong-scented mint that contains a volatile oil that’s easily released into the air. Biting or rolling on the plant crushes the leaves and releases the oil so Kitty can get a good sniff. It doesn’t take much. Cats can detect catnip oil in the air at saturation as low as one part per billion.

Karma-Kat #Reviews the Uahpet Wireless Cat Water Fountain

Cats evolved as desert creatures able to conserve water, but often don’t drink enough to stay healthy. Karma-Kat increased his drinking habit after he got the Uahpet Wireless Water Fountain!

Even better, you can get 15% off ANYTHING in the Uahpet store . . .

Water equals life for our cats. Did you know that water makes up 84 percent of a kitten’s body weight, and 60 percent of an adult cat’s body weight? Water lubricates the tissue and helps distribute electrolytes like salt throughout the body. Water fuels digestion and elimination, and helps regulate the cat’s body temperature. Without enough water, dehydration can cause severe illness. Even a 15 percent loss of body water results in death.

Yet cats get really picky about drinking enough water. We’ve had several pet water fountains here, and Karma-Kat and the doggos enjoyed them. When water sits for a long time, it tastes funny, sometimes taking on the smell or taste of the container. Static water encourages growth of mildew, mold, or bacteria that can make pets snub the bowl. While we hate the idea of pets drinking from toilets, the commode appeals to dogs–AND cats–because each flush fills the cool porcelain with fresh water that churning fills with air (aerates) for improved taste.

A pet water fountain offers a better option. But most cat water fountains require the pump to plug into an electrical outlet. Pets often chew cords and that poses electrocution risks. A wired fountain also limits the places where you can locate the fountain. So when Uahpet reached out offering to send us the Wireless Cat Water Fountain to test and review, Karma meowed with excitement! Well…not really, but I couldn’t wait to try it out. It also works great for small dogs. Learn more . . . and get the discount code!

10 People Food Treats Dogs Can Eat

Oh, those puppy dog eyes begging for people food…It doesn’t have to be a holiday for us to want to give treats to our dogs. Our cats love people food, too. We love to indulge ourselves—and them—with safe people food and holiday dog treats.

These days, we’re not going out to eat so much but are cooking at home more, so there are additional yummies available. Both Shadow-Pup and Karma-Kat think they deserve some of the table food. We offer only in moderation, and that the choices are safe for pets.

Pet poisons can make our dogs and cats sick and we need to know what to do. Learn more about first aid for common pet poisons here. In fact, there are many high-risk foods for our pets. You probably know about chocolate, but did you know that macadamia nuts, avocados, or raisins/grapes can cause toxicity? Artificial sweeteners keep owners lean but any goodies sweetened with Xylitol could cause canine liver failure…

The Holistic Cat Conference – REPLAY August 5 & 6, this Weekend Only

Many of y’all know I wrote a book about holistic pet care and interviewed nearly 70 veterinarians while researching the material. Boy, did I learn a lot–and changed my mind about many things! These veterinarians also shared how holistic care had changed the way they practice vet care.

So I want you to meet a friend of mine, veterinarian Dr. Jeff Grognet, an advocate for cats and holistic care. He notes that forty years ago, veterinarians typically promoted dry kibble as the best cat food. And, we vaccinated every year. My, how times change!

“Now, we know better. But, there are many other things we need to look at and change our thinking on,” he says. So he created The Holistic Cat Conference. He asked me to speak (SQUEE!) and hosts a REPLAY August 5 & 6, this Weekend Only…

Why Does My Dog Eat Cat Poop? Stop Litter Box Grazing

Do you often ask, Why does my dog eat poop? This disgusting habit drives humans nuts, and even cats get upset with dogs eating cat poop. So when you ask, How can I stop my dog from eating poop?” you’ll find the answers here.

Puppy antics delight most new owners, but dogs eating poop prompts anything but smiles. My own darling Magic indulged when he turned six months old. He’d make a beeline to visit his horse buddy next door and find the nifty treats she left on the ground. Or he’d sniff out “bunny eggs” and indulge! After these nasty snacks Magic always tried to kiss everybody on the lips, yuck! Thank doG, he finally outgrew the behavior…

But many dogs indulge, and when access to the cat box provides yummy opportunities, pet lovers need answers. Urk! That’s why I’m offering some insight into the behavior…and thrilled to review The Door Buddy to give pet parents some help.

2023 American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) Conference: Early Bird Registration Now Available

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), holds its annual conference (which doubles as the 7th World Feline Veterinary Conference) October 12-15, 2023 in Memphis, TN. The event features both in-person and virtual sessions focussed on The Ins and Outs of Feline Nutrition and Gastroenterology.

Last year, I attended the *virtual* AAFP sessions and came away with new, great insight helpful to me as a cat lover and behavior consultant (although I’m NOT a veterinarian). Veterinary professionals and others can learn and earn continuing education hours. I particularly liked having access to the digital proceedings, because often you can’t attend everything because of conflicts. I’m pleased to see AAFP again offers this opportunity.

If you have a special interest in cat care and/or know a veterinarian who would benefit, read on! And share this information with those who need it.

Cat to Cat Introductions: Introducing Cats

Whenever a new cat arrives, cat to cat introductions take over. We base cat training on kitten behavior to get the most out of the learning process. Each spring heralds that lovely time of the year for happy surprises, and that may mean a new kitten in your holiday plans. If that’s you, and you already have a feline, prepare in advance for cat introductions of the resident feline to the new baby. Many times, shelters and rescue groups recommend adopting PAIRS of kitties. That way, if the cats already know each other — or the kittens are littermates — they help entertain and soothe each other. Instead of chasing and attacking your feet, they target each other.

But what if you have a resident cat and a new kitty shows up? How do cat to cat introductions work when introducing cats to kittens, or adult cats to cats?

It can be heartbreaking when the cats you love don’t get along. Proper introductions help enormously to soothe the angst.

Pet Smell? 7 Pet Smell & Stain Removers for Pet Potty Accidents

Anyone who lives with pets benefits from an effective pet smell eliminator. With hot weather keeping pets indoors for longer periods, pet potty accidents may increase. But be careful your pet accident cleaner doesn’t cause more problems. A pet smelly carpet where the cat sprayed urine or the dog leg lifted could draw the culprit back to the scene of the accident. Switching litter too fast may also prompt the cat to “go” in the wrong place. I’ve updated the list to stay current.

It can be tough to potty train dogs. You may wonder why your dog won’t go on grass.

Recently a friend complained about a horrible pet smell with her dogs, and ask about an effective pet smell remover for her home. In her case, the dogs found a skunk, and I referred her to this page with 3 home remedies for de-skunking pets. De-skunking formulations also work well for dogs that roll in poop or other aromatic fun.

Cats and dogs can detect minute chemical scents humans can’t fathom. That’s one reason dogs love underwear! Simply mopping up the mess may satisfy your nose, but the smell lures pets back to the scene of the crime to repeat the dirty deed, time after time. Here are my top go-to products to get rid of the stink!

Visit Amy's Website

Amy Shojai CACB is an award winning author.  You can find all her publications and book her to speak via her website. 

On Demand Writer Coaching is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to